Interview Questions: Commonly Asked Interview Questions

Published: Mar 10, 2009

Companies these days look for more than whether you're a witty or especially cool individual when it comes to personality. Among the characteristics highest on their list are teamwork and innovation. They may not ask whether you are a team player, or creative. That doesn't mean you shouldn't go ahead and tell them. But then again, a lot of interviewers will ask you outright: tell me why your personal traits will work here.

1. Why are you applying for this position? >

Probably the most commonly-asked question at job interviews. You need to convince your interviewer that you are enthusiastic about the job.

2. Tell me about a time when you used initiative/Give me an example of when you came up with an innovative solution/Give me an example of a time you exceeded expectations.

In this ever-changing world in which we work, employees are supposed to be innovative, to be able to "think outside of the box." Questions like these (such as the way the "initiative" question and "exceeded expectations" questions are worded) can be used as opportunities to talk about creative faculties - pick an instance when showing initiative meant coming up with an out-of-the-ordinary solution.

3. I see on your resume that you served as chairperson of such-and-such committee. What was that experience like?

Along with innovation, employers often look for leadership ability. In general, interviewers are looking for evidence of a willingness to listen, an ability to give feedback, and a firmness when it comes to getting things done.

4. What would members of your basketball team/business school cohort/ butterfly catching expedition say about you? Tell us about a time you had to deal with a difficult team member.

Teamwork is another highly valued trait these days, companies are looking for employees who work well in groups. If your interviewer doesn't bring up teamwork, do it yourself. These questions are similar to the leadership questions - interviewers are looking for both an openness to ideas and a willingness to nudge team members toward a goal.

5. Why did you decide to switch careers/Why did you decide to go back to school/Why did you take time off during college?


Be prepared to walk through your resume with your interviewer, especially at companies that like to promote from within. They want to know that you're committed to the industry and will be loyal to their company.

6. Where do you see yourself in five years?

You don't necessarily need to say that you want to work for the company forever, but you should express how you think the position to which you are applying will help you grow.

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Loved it. Learned so much. And let me tell you a little bit about what types of activities I was involved in.

8. What lessons did you learn from you last job that you think can be transferred to this position?

>9. What do you consider your biggest fault?

Interviewers love this question, even though it sort of invites dishonesty. You're supposed to say something like: "I?m a perfectionist." Or: "I tend to work too hard." You may want to prepare a more thoughtful answer, but you should at least anticipate this question.

10. If you could go anywhere for 24 hours, with an unlimited budget where would you go?

Sometimes, interviewers will ask off-the-wall questions just to get a better sense of who you are as a person.